ACCTING 4101 - Advanced Theory in Accounting (H)

North Terrace Campus - Semester 1 - 2019

This course is designed to enable students to obtain an in-depth understanding of some of the main theoretical and research perspectives that have contributed to the literature in accounting and to be able to critically review the application of behavioural and market based theories underlying financial accounting and reporting, auditing and management accounting research. Topics in financial accounting and reporting include: applications of agency theory, positive accounting theory, legitimacy theory and institutional theory. This is essentially a reading-based course in which students will critically review scholarly research articles each week.

  • General Course Information
    Course Details
    Course Code ACCTING 4101
    Course Advanced Theory in Accounting (H)
    Coordinating Unit Adelaide Business School
    Term Semester 1
    Level Undergraduate
    Location/s North Terrace Campus
    Units 3
    Contact Up to 3 hours per week
    Available for Study Abroad and Exchange N
    Course Description This course is designed to enable students to obtain an in-depth understanding of some of the main theoretical and research perspectives that have contributed to the literature in accounting and to be able to critically review the application of behavioural and market based theories underlying financial accounting and reporting, auditing and management accounting research. Topics in financial accounting and reporting include: applications of agency theory, positive accounting theory, legitimacy theory and institutional theory. This is essentially a reading-based course in which students will critically review scholarly research articles each week.
    Course Staff

    Course Coordinator: Associate Professor Janice Loftus

    Name:  Associate Professor Janice Loftus
    Location:  Room 13.10, Nexus 10 (10 Pulteney Street)
    Telephone:  8313 1024

    Name:  Associate Professor Bryan Howieson    
    Location:  Room 13.27, Nexus 10 (10 Pulteney Street)
    Telephone:  8313 4760

    Course Timetable

    The full timetable of all activities for this course can be accessed from Course Planner.

    This course is not included in the University timetable due to the small number of sudents involved. The timetable will be negotiated before the first teaching week of semester one.
  • Learning Outcomes
    Course Learning Outcomes
    On successful completion of this course students will be able to:

    1. Articluate some of the major methodologies (paradigms or models) in accounting research;

    2. Explain the strengths and weaknesses of each of the methodologies;

    3. Explain the relationship between research methodologies and research questions in accounting;

    4. Lead discussion on accounting issues currently being debated by the accounting profession and others, that reflects awareness of the role that research findings can play in informing such debates; and

    5. Critically analyse accounting issues currently being debated and communicate their views both orally and in writing.

    University Graduate Attributes

    This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attribute(s) specified below:

    University Graduate Attribute Course Learning Outcome(s)
    Deep discipline knowledge
    • informed and infused by cutting edge research, scaffolded throughout their program of studies
    • acquired from personal interaction with research active educators, from year 1
    • accredited or validated against national or international standards (for relevant programs)
    1, 4
    Critical thinking and problem solving
    • steeped in research methods and rigor
    • based on empirical evidence and the scientific approach to knowledge development
    • demonstrated through appropriate and relevant assessment
    2, 3, 4
    Teamwork and communication skills
    • developed from, with, and via the SGDE
    • honed through assessment and practice throughout the program of studies
    • encouraged and valued in all aspects of learning
    4, 5
    Career and leadership readiness
    • technology savvy
    • professional and, where relevant, fully accredited
    • forward thinking and well informed
    • tested and validated by work based experiences
    Intercultural and ethical competency
    • adept at operating in other cultures
    • comfortable with different nationalities and social contexts
    • able to determine and contribute to desirable social outcomes
    • demonstrated by study abroad or with an understanding of indigenous knowledges
    Self-awareness and emotional intelligence
    • a capacity for self-reflection and a willingness to engage in self-appraisal
    • open to objective and constructive feedback from supervisors and peers
    • able to negotiate difficult social situations, defuse conflict and engage positively in purposeful debate
  • Learning Resources
    Required Resources
    A large proportion of the recommended and prescribed readings for this course will be provided to you as we proceed
    or available through the digital resource management centre, with a link provided through MyUni. This unit is primarily a research and reading course and you are expected to supplement these readings with your own sources wherever possible. Preparing your reading and seminar discussion points well in advance will maximise the benefits you receive from the class sessions.

    You will also be required have access to a current copy of Australian accounting standards and exposure drafts. These
    are available at  Any source is appropriate as long as it is up to date.  The following is available in hardcopy if you
    wish to buy one:
    Financial Reporting Handbook 2017, John Wiley & Sons, Australia (CAANZ Handbook).
    Recommended Resources
    Some additional reference sources, which are available in the library, include:

    J. Godfrey, A. Hodgson, A. Tarca, J. Hamilton and S. Holmes, Accounting Theory, (7th Edition) 2010, John Wiley
    and Sons, Australia.

    R. L. Watts, J. L. Zimmerman, Positive Accounting Theory, 1986, Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs, N.J.

    A. Barnea, R. A. Haugen, L. W. Senbet, Agency Problems and Financial Contracting, 1985, Prentice-Hall,
     Englewood Cliffs, N.J.

    H. I. Wolk, J. R. Francis, M. G. Tearney, Accounting Theory: A Conceptual and Institutional Approach, (3rd Edition) 1992, South-Western Pub. Co., Cincinnati, Ohio.

    C. Deegan, Financial Accounting Theory, (4th Edition) 2014, McGraw-Hill, Australia.

    W. H. Beaver, Financial Reporting: An Accounting Revolution, (Third Edition) 1998, Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs, N.J.

    G. Whittred, I. Zimmer, S. Taylor, Financial Accounting: Incentive Effects and Economic Consequences, (Sixth Edition) 2004, Thomson, Australia.


  • Learning & Teaching Activities
    Learning & Teaching Modes
    At this advanced level, you bear a high responsibility for your own learning.  The facilitators in this course do not give lectures but rather act as guides to your learning of the material.  The course is run as a series of seminars in which you are expected to do the necessary reading and preparation of course requirements prior to attending each class session.  Although some discussion questions will be provided in advance to help structure your reading and understanding, these questions are just a starting point for the analysis of each topic.  Active participation in the seminars will greatly increase your understanding of complex concepts and improve your chances of successfully completing the course.  Researching material outside that provided is encouraged.

    The information below is provided as a guide to assist students in engaging appropriately with the course requirements.

    The University expects full-time students (i.e., those taking 12 units per semester) to devote a total of 48 hours per week to their studies. This means that you are expected to commit approximately 9 hours for a three-unit course of private study outside of your regular classes.

    Students in this course are expected to attend all class sessions throughout the semester.

    Honours and MBR students are also expected to be actively involved in the research life of the School and are expected to attend the various research seminars given throughout the semester.
    Learning Activities Summary
    (Week Commencing 27 Feb) WEEK 1: INTRODUCTION
    Overview of the course, historical development of accounting and accounting thought, introduction to the nature and role of theory, overview of the accounting methodologies to be studied in the course

    WEEK 2: Early normative accounting literature. 
    WEEK 3: Capital Market Efficiency  
    WEEK 4: Costly Contracting  
    WEEK 5: Behavioural Accounting
    WEEK 6: Systems approach, including stakeholder theories and legitimacy theory

    Mid-semester break

    WEEK 7: Accounting Regulation
    WEEK 8: Social and Environmental Accounting
    WEEK 9: IFRS and International Convergence
    WEEK 10: Student-led discussions
    WEEK 11: Studnet-led discussions
    WEEK 12: Course overview
    Specific Course Requirements
    Attend the Accounting discipline research seminars throughout the semester, schedule to be advised.

    To pass this course, a mark of at least 50% must be obtained on the final exam, as well as a total of at least 50% overall.  Students not achieving the minimum exam mark will be awarded no more than 49.

  • Assessment

    The University's policy on Assessment for Coursework Programs is based on the following four principles:

    1. Assessment must encourage and reinforce learning.
    2. Assessment must enable robust and fair judgements about student performance.
    3. Assessment practices must be fair and equitable to students and give them the opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned.
    4. Assessment must maintain academic standards.

    Assessment Summary
    Assessment Task Weighting Learning Outcome
    Assignment 1 5% 1-5
    Assignment 2 15% 1-5
    Assignment 3 - Reflective Journal Exercise 15% 1-3, 5
    Leading a discussion on a topic 15% 1-5
    Final Exam 50% 1-3, 5
    Assessment Related Requirements
    Please note that all assessments are compulsory and no resubmissions are permitted.
    Assessment Detail
    Details about the final exam and other assessments will be provided in separate documents available on MyUni.

    Criteria for assessing the assignment will be provided with the instructions.

    Assignment 1         5%
    Learning Outcome: 1 - 5
    Due Date:  Week 5, TBA.

    Assignment 2        15%
    Learning Outcomes: 1 - 5
    Due Date:  Mid-semester break, TBA.

    Assignment 3 – Reflective Journal Exercise 15%
    Learning Outcomes: 1 - 3, 5
    Due Date:  Please see separately supplied handout.

    Leading a discusssion on a topic        15%
    For week 11, you will have the opportunity to lead a discussion around a topic of your choice.  It is your responsibility to prepare in advance the necessary readings and discussion questions.  The assessment criteria for this items includes the quality of your research and preparation. More details are provided in a separat handout.
    Learning Outcomes: 1 - 5
    Due Date: The discussions will be held in Weeks 10 - 11.

    Final Exam                                      50%
    There will be a 3 hour exam.
    Learning Outcomes: 1 - 3, 5
    Presentation of Assignments
    The assignments must be completed individually.
    Assignments must be submitted electronically through MyUni Turnitin Assignments, which is a computer programme that detects
    plagiarism. Please retain a copy of all assignments submitted.

    Assignment Guidelines including Referencing Details

    The Communication Skills Guide for Business Programmes (look under ‘downloads’):   provides guidelines on a range of important communication skills (including structuring and writing essays and reports, making oral presentations etc.).

    In preparing any written piece of assessment for your honours/postgraduate studies it is important to draw on the relevant ‘literature’ to support critical analysis. Also essential is to reference the literature used. Correct referencing is important because it identifies the source of the ideas and arguments that you present, and sometimes the source of the actual words you use, and  helps to avoid the problem of plagiarism.

    The Harvard system is widely used in the Business School. Guidelines for the use of this style of referencing can be found in the Communication Skills Guide.

    Further assistance with referencing is available from the Faculty’s Learning Support Advisors. The contact details are provided on page 4 of the Communication Skills Guide.

    Late Assignment Submission

    Students are expected to submit their work by the due date to maintain a fair and equitable system.  Extensions will generally only be given for medical or other serious reasons. All requests for extensions must be emailed to the lecturer in charge of the course before the due date. Each request will be assessed on its merits.  A late assignment (without prior arrangement) will be penalised by a 10% mark reduction for each day that it is late.

    Return of Assignments

    Lecturers aim to mark and return assignments to students within two (2) weeks of the due date with written feedback.

    Course Grading

    Grades for your performance in this course will be awarded in accordance with the following scheme:

    M11 (Honours Mark Scheme)
    GradeGrade reflects following criteria for allocation of gradeReported on Official Transcript
    Fail A mark between 1-49 F
    Third Class A mark between 50-59 3
    Second Class Div B A mark between 60-69 2B
    Second Class Div A A mark between 70-79 2A
    First Class A mark between 80-100 1
    Result Pending An interim result RP
    Continuing Continuing CN

    Further details of the grades/results can be obtained from Examinations.

    Grade Descriptors are available which provide a general guide to the standard of work that is expected at each grade level. More information at Assessment for Coursework Programs.

    Final results for this course will be made available through Access Adelaide.

  • Student Feedback

    The University places a high priority on approaches to learning and teaching that enhance the student experience. Feedback is sought from students in a variety of ways including on-going engagement with staff, the use of online discussion boards and the use of Student Experience of Learning and Teaching (SELT) surveys as well as GOS surveys and Program reviews.

    SELTs are an important source of information to inform individual teaching practice, decisions about teaching duties, and course and program curriculum design. They enable the University to assess how effectively its learning environments and teaching practices facilitate student engagement and learning outcomes. Under the current SELT Policy ( course SELTs are mandated and must be conducted at the conclusion of each term/semester/trimester for every course offering. Feedback on issues raised through course SELT surveys is made available to enrolled students through various resources (e.g. MyUni). In addition aggregated course SELT data is available.

  • Student Support
  • Policies & Guidelines
  • Fraud Awareness

    Students are reminded that in order to maintain the academic integrity of all programs and courses, the university has a zero-tolerance approach to students offering money or significant value goods or services to any staff member who is involved in their teaching or assessment. Students offering lecturers or tutors or professional staff anything more than a small token of appreciation is totally unacceptable, in any circumstances. Staff members are obliged to report all such incidents to their supervisor/manager, who will refer them for action under the university's student’s disciplinary procedures.

The University of Adelaide is committed to regular reviews of the courses and programs it offers to students. The University of Adelaide therefore reserves the right to discontinue or vary programs and courses without notice. Please read the important information contained in the disclaimer.